Haram - Protected Zone

Protected Zone

As used in Islamic urban planning, the word ḥaram (حرم) means "inviolate zone", an important aspect of urban planning in Muslim civilization. Such protected areas were sanctuaries, or places where contending parties could settle disputes peacefully. Towns were usually built near a river which provided drinking and domestic water (upstream) and carried away waste and sewage (downstream). Muslims claim to have introduced the idea of carrying capacity, and clearly sometimes did limit the number of families in any given town. The harams were typically positioned to ensure access to parkland and nature (which were given another name, hima), to restrict urban sprawl, protect water-courses and watersheds and oases. In this respect the rules strongly resembled modern zoning laws, with the same purposes.

The distinction between haram and hima is thought by some modern scholars to have been necessary due to a different means of deciding which regions were to have restrictions - the selection of haram was considered to be more up to the community while the selection of hima had more to do with natural characteristics of the region, which were considered to be best respected by jurists. This idea probably arises from two different obligations of the Muslim to respect ijma (consensus of neighbors within Islam) and practice khalifa (stewardship of nature under Allah). It may or may not reflect actual means of decision making historically.

See also: Hima (disambiguation), carrying capacity, and drainage basin

As a protected and inviolate zone, haram is also employed referring to the consecrated space in a mosque where rituals and prayer take place: it is the prayer hall.

Read more about this topic:  Haram

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Famous quotes containing the words zone and/or protected:

    He who, from zone to zone,
    Guides through the boundless sky thy certain flight,
    In the long way that I must tread alone,
    Will lead my steps aright.
    William Cullen Bryant (1794–1878)

    If one really wishes to know how justice is administered in a country, one does not question the policemen, the lawyers, the judges, or the protected members of the middle class. One goes to the unprotected—those, precisely, who need the laws’s protection most!—and listens to their testimony.
    James Baldwin (1924–1987)